[lg policy] Polish church unveils integration policy for migrant Catholics

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Mon Apr 30 15:42:54 EDT 2018

Polish church unveils integration policy for migrant Catholics By  Catholic
News Service

   - April 27, 2018

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) – Poland's Catholic bishops said they no longer have
enough clergy to minister to Poles living abroad and urged emigrant
Catholics to integrate more with the church in other countries.
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"Even with a very large group of Polish priests, it isn't possible to reach
in a timely way every place where Poles are found," said the Warsaw-based
bishops' conference.

"Your witness of faith will positively influence believers from other
national groups, especially those belonging to local church communities.
Bishops in other countries count on such help from Polish Catholics."

In a pastoral letter to be read at Polish Masses abroad April 29, the
bishops thank the 2,000 Polish priests and nuns currently ministering to
Poles worldwide, and laypeople assisting with liturgical, educational,
cultural and charitable work.

They thanked local bishops who had shown "openness and understanding" by
making places of worship available and ensuring conditions for
Polish-language pastoral work, but said Poles should now also attend Mass
in the language of their country of residence.

"A mature patriotism has nothing to do with nationalism or closing off from
other cultures and traditions – nor with today's increasingly fashionable
internationalism, blurring the difference between particular nations," said
the letter, marking the centenary of Poland's 1918 independence.

"Recognizing the unity of faith and your responsibility for the church, you
should now make efforts to maintain good, regular contacts with Catholics
of other nationalities. ... Promote Polish culture, defend Poland's good
name, and maintain personal and institutional contact with the homeland.
But also respect the country which has accepted you and given you work."

The Polish church runs missions or pastoral networks in 25 countries, by
agreement with local bishops' conferences, catering for the religious needs
of around 15 million Poles whose families left after World War II, the
early 1980s Solidarity movement and Poland's 2004 accession to the European

In France and Germany, where Polish missions have operated since the 1830s,
236 Polish priests currently minister to a combined Polish population of 3
million, while in the U.S., Polish clergy work at over 300 parishes.

In a January 2007 pastoral letter, the Warsaw bishops' conference said
Polish parishes and missions were often "the only centers for Polish
identity and culture" and urged Poles to seek out their own priests when

However, in August 2016, Archbishop Wojciech Polak of Gniezno told Catholic
News Service Polish priests contracted to foreign dioceses often had
trouble understanding local conditions, while a current decline in
vocations would limit clergy available for mission work.

The Polish church's delegate for Catholics abroad, Auxiliary Bishop Wieslaw
Lechowicz of Tarnow, told CNS April 26 that the 2007 pastoral had reflected
the needs of a "very large number" of Poles who had left after their
country's EU accession. He said many faced language and adaptation problems
best tackled "in a climate of faith and tradition brought from the

However, he added that the situation had now improved, removing "barriers
impeding contact with local church representatives and communities."

"It's important next-generation Polish emigrants not only know the Gospel
and church teaching well, but also experience the faith not just in
Polish-language communities – they mustn't associate the church only with
Polish communities," Bishop Lechowicz said.

The bishop said Polish church leaders were aware Polish parishes came under
a diocesan bishop's jurisdiction, adding that forms of contact and
cooperation were carefully defined.

New Polish church guidelines are expected to outline priorities for Polish
clergy abroad, to prevent disputes over jurisdictional issues and access to
local churches, as well as over the separate practices of some Polish

However, the rector of the Polish Catholic Mission in England and Wales,
Msgr. Stefan Wylezek, told CNS April 25 that many Poles found
English-language Masses cold, compared to their own "expressive, devotional

He added that the church's canon law allowed Catholics to pray and worship
in their own language and said full integration would "take one or two

"There are no foreigners in the church – we are all one and, for me, mixed
parishes offer the best hope," said Msgr. Wylezek, whose London-based
mission has 217 parishes and pastoral centers, with 120 Polish priests.

"But we can't order this by decree; we have to devote time and effort to
organizing and building our church communities, with all our cultures and
backgrounds, so people can grow in faith."


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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